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GOVERNMENT TEAM ADDRESSES NATION'S AGING WIRE SYSTEMS.

Modern life is virtually unimaginable without electricity and the wire systems that carry and distribute it. Electric wiring is critical to the operation of virtually all homes, workplaces and modes of transportation. Poor design, use of defective materials, improper installation or other problems with wiring can lead to catastrophe. Risks increase as wire systems age due to the cumulative effects of environmental stresses (such as heat, cold, moisture or vibration), inadvertent damage during maintenance and the "wear and tear" of constant use.

For the past 3 months, wire safety experts from 17 different federal agencies, including NIST, analyzed government science and technology initiatives concerned with the issue of aging wiring. Known as the Wire Safety Interagency Working Group, the team is a subgroup of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Technology. On Nov. 15, 2000, the working group submitted a report to President Clinton that assesses wire safety issues in the nation, describes the current practices of federal agencies in managing the aging of wiring, outlines specific science and technology initiatives aimed at aging wiring, and recommends strategies for improving wire system safety.

The report's recommendations include a national change in the perception of wiring (an end to treating wiring as a "fit and forget" commodity); increased data collection and sharing between industry, academia and the government; the creation of standardized tools that detect conditions leading to system failures; the development of rapid, reliable repair processes and methods of automated replacement of wire systems; increased training in the installation, inspection and maintenance of wire systems; and the development of advanced wire technologies and materials (such as wireless, microelectronic, multiplexing and fiber-optic systems).

The report, Review of Federal Programs for Wire System Safety, is available at http://ostp.gov/NSTC/htmlI nstc_pubs.html.
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Publication:Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:295
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